Nate Wolters will try to ensure that his magnificent career ends on the grand stage as he leads the top-seeded South Dakota State Jackrabbits against the North Dakota State Bison in the Summit League Tournament championship game.
Wolters began to make a name for himself as one of college basketball's best players last year when he led SDSU to the NCAA Tournament where it came up just short against the third-seeded Baylor Bears, who had numerous NBA prospects on their roster. The talented floor general returned for his senior season to post incredible averages of 22.5 points, 5.6 rebounds and 5.8 assists per tilt. His efforts helped the Jackrabbits win the Summit League regular season title.
Wolters showed he can light it up as well as anyone, scoring 53 in a single game versus IPFW during the regular season and set a season-high with 12 assists in SDSU's 72-56 win over the Mastodons in the semifinals on Sunday. Chad White also got into the action, as he had White poured in 17 points on 4- of-5 from 3-point range for SDSU. Tony Fiegen surpassed the 1,000-point mark for his career as he added 16 points, while Jordan Dykstra logged nine points and nine rebounds for the Jackrabbits, who shots a lofty 61.5 percent from the field on the night.
The Jackrabbits will now turn their attention to a very talented NDSU team, which finished third in the Summit League but just one game behind SDSU and Western Illinois's first-place tie. The Bison coasted past the Leathernecks to a 55-43 victory on Sunday in the semifinals as TrayVonn Wright tallied 19 points and seven rebounds. Taylor Braun added 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists for the Bison, who have won four in a row. NDSU won the rebounding battle, 30-21, and outscored WIU in the paint, 20-14.
Braun paces NDSU with 15.3 points and 1.5 steals per outing while Marshall Bjorklund chips in 11.8 points and 6.1 boards per tilt. The Bison had not won a tournament game since 2009, when they won the championship, before their quarterfinal round victory over UMKC.
The home team won in both of the regular-season meetings. The Bison clipped SDSU, 65-62, on Dec. 29 behind a 20-point outing from Bjorklund. NDSU shot 53.5 percent from the floor and knocked down nine 3-pointers in the first bout, but the Jackrabbits exacted their revenge on Jan. 26 as Wolters pumped in 26 points to lead his squad to a 69-53 rout. The Bison are 109-97 against the Jackrabbits all-time. This is the fifth postseason meeting on record between the two schools and the first for a league championship since 1980 when SDSU beat NDSU 79-75 in Brookings.